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How bringing comics into the classroom made me love teaching again
Tim Smyth May 08, 2017 05:10 PM EDT
more on humor in the classroom in this IMS blog
more on comics in education in this IMS blog
more on VR in this IMS blog
Creating Cartoons to Spark Engagement, Learning
Avoid using infographics for purposes, which toodoo can serve.
Infographics are for about visualization of stats, not just visualization.
By Vicki E. Phillips
As instructors, we are constantly looking for new ways to capture our students’ attention and increase their participation in our classes, especially in the online modalities. We spend countless hours crafting weekly announcements for classes and then inevitably receive multiple emails from our students asking the very same questions that we so carefully and completely answered in those very same announcements! The question remains, how do we get them to read our posts?
It was precisely that problem I was trying to solve when I came across several articles touting the benefits of comics in higher education classrooms. I knew I couldn’t create an entire comic book, but I wondered if I could create a content-related cartoon that would not only capture students’ attention and maybe make them laugh, but also interest them enough that they would read the entire announcement or post. In doing so, I would be freed from responding to dozens of emails asking the same questions outlined in the announcements and students could focus on the homework.
A quick Internet search led me to a plethora of free “click and drag” cartoon making software applications to try. I started posting my own cartoons on characters, themes, etc. on the weekly literature we were studying in my upper division American and Contemporary World Literature classes, as well as to offer reminders or a few words of encouragement. Here’s an example of one I posted during week 7 of the semester when students can become discouraged with their assignment load: http://www.toondoo.com/cartoon/10115361
After a positive response, I decided to provide my online students the opportunity to try their hand at cartoon creation. I created a rubric and a set of instructions for an easy to use, free program that I had used, and I opened up the “cartoon challenge” to the students. The results were nothing short of amazing—what intrigued me the most was the time and effort they took with their cartoons. Not only did they create cartoons on the story we were reading, but they also wrote additional posts explaining their ideas for the creation, discussing why they chose a particular scene, and identifying those elements pertinent to the points they were making. These posts tended to receive many more substantial comments from their peers than the traditional discussion board posts, indicating they were being read more.
When students in my face-to-face course heard about the cartoons, they asked to try this approach as well. Their cartoons, shared in class via the overhead projector, led to some of the most engaging and interesting discussions I have ever had in the residential literature classes as students explained how they came up with the elements they chose, and why they picked a certain scene from the reading. The positive student feedback has been instrumental in my continuing to offer this option in both my online and face-to-face classes.
How does one get started in making these cartoons? The good news is you do not have to be an artist to make a cartoon! There are free programs with templates, clip art, and all the elements you would need to click and drag into place all those wonderful ideas you have simmering in your brain. My favorite to use is ToonDoo, available at http://toondoo.com. I like it because there are literally hundreds of elements, a search bar, and it lets me customize what I want to say in the dialog bubbles. It is very user friendly, even for those of us with limited artistic ability.
The whole experience has been overwhelmingly positive for me, and judging from the feedback received, for the students as well. It has also reminded me of one of my teaching goals, which is to incorporate more activities which would fall under assimilating and creating aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, 2001). If that is your goal as well, then try inserting a cartoon in those weekly announcements and ask for feedback from your students—I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Armstrong, Patricia (n.d.) Bloom’s Taxonomy, Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/#2001
Pappas, Christopher (2014) The 5 Best Free Cartoon Making Programs for Teachers. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/the-5-best-free-cartoon-making-tools-for-teachers
Vicki E. Phillips is an assistant professor of English and Literature at Rasmussen College, Ocala, Fla.
cartoons for historians and history teaching / learning:
more on effective presentations in this IMS blog
more on create infographics in this IMS blog:
more on fake news in this iMS blog
Video Storytelling in Social Media Marketing
#1: Post Stories From Your Customers
#2: Create a Fictional Series
#3: Tell Personal Stories
#4: Shoot Documentary-Style Video
#5: Interview Guests
#6: Take Viewers Behind the Scenes
#7: Create Animated Stories
#8: Show Viewers How to Do Something
Other Stories to Tell With Video
There are a lot of interesting ways to integrate storytelling into your social videos. In addition to those featured above, here are some other stories that are well suited for video:
- Create a single video or a series of videos to highlight humorous situations related to your business or industry.
- If your company’s beginnings would make an interesting story, have the founder tell that story on video.
- Are your employees involved in interesting activities or challenges? Consider featuring those stories in your social videos.
- Tell a fictional but realistic story on video to educate viewers about your industry.
- Find a way to combine reality TV–style video with something relevant to your audience.
How to Make Your Twitter Profile Stand Out
#1: Zig When They Zag
This one’s easy: Don’t do what everyone else is doing. If you see a trend popping up in bios, don’t immediately change your bio to reflect that trend. Everyone ends up using the same verbiage, the same phrases, the same descriptors.
Another trend is to include a disclaimer—the most popular being, “Views are my own.” This is the Twitter equivalent of saying “I will bore you to death.” This disclaimer doesn’t serve any real legal purpose, nor will it save your job. If your employer requires it, do it, but other than that, leave it off.
The key takeaway here? When you see a trend, run the other way. If you’re compelled to follow a popular trend, at least put it through your personal lens first. Change it enough that the thread is there, but it’s clear you’ve put more thought into it than simply following the crowd.
#2: Use Brief Sentences and Links
Make an impact on your audience by crafting a sentence or two that convey your expertise. Choose the most important things you do; state them in a clear, compelling way; and then explain why your skills should matter to the visitor. The challenge, of course, is brevity.
In addition consider that hashtags, @s and links—the language of Twitter—are clickable in your profile. I’m always surprised that more people aren’t using these valuable opportunities in their Twitter bios.
Jim Cramer’s Twitter bio has two simple, concise sentences that promote and link to his website, charitable trust, his CNBC show and his blog.
It would have been easy to make a laundry list of those properties along with his book titles and accolades (just like everyone else). Instead, two well-crafted sentences emphasize his most important efforts and include links to each.
In your Twitter settings you have the option to set your location and provide a link to your website. Since Cramer’s main bio already links to his website, he uses his sidebar link to point to his author page.
Make the most of your real estate. If you have too much to convey in a sentence or two, get creative—use your sidebar link.
If you operate other accounts, go ahead and add them. These simple links are such an easy way to build your followers for other accounts or your website. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.
#3: Use One Word
On the other hand, you don’t always need a list of keywords or even sentences to convey your sentiment. Sometimes, a single word can make a serious impact.
If you can creatively distill your abilities to one word, you’ve snagged yourself a punchy, powerful piece of the creativity pie.
#4: Stretch the Truth
I’m not talking about lying about your abilities. I’m talking about tongue-in-cheek obvious exaggeration.
An obvious “lie” can be funny and attract attention. For example, since when is Ellen an ice road trucker?
#5: Update Frequently
Smart Twitter users know that a static profile is boring and uncreative. Change it up based on what’s current in your career or marketing initiatives.
Changing your profile bio helps you keep followers abreast of your new accolades or endeavors (e.g., launching a new business or writing a book). Adapting your profile keeps you interesting. And best of all, it forces you to be creative more often.
#6: Acknowledge Your Audience
Say “hello” or “goodbye” to your followers. When you speak directly to someone, you stand a much better chance of actually gaining his or her attention.
Use the word “you” rather than “I” in your profile—it becomes more of a personal message and less of a brag. With that simple change, your bio becomes more inviting.
Over to You
The New York Times calls Twitter bios a postmodern art form. If it’s an art form, then we are the artists. I encourage you to try some of these tips and see where your own creative artistry takes you.
Creativity doesn’t come with an instruction manual. You’ll probably find yours at weird moments when you least expect it. I know a lot of people who have that a-ha! moment in the shower!
but seriously, what are your thoughts about Common Core
7 Things You Shouldn’t Tweet
1. “What a workout! #exhausted #seeyoutomorrowgym”
New Years Day has come and gone, and like most Americans, my resolution for 2014 about working out is already nonexistent. Now, don’t make me or anyone else feel even worse about it by tweeting about “your extreme Crossfit session” or your “punishing leg day workout.”
Plus, are you really working out that hard if you have time to tweet about it?
2. “Gosh like 3 people today told me I’m beautiful, but I totally don’t think so. #confused #beauty”
Did you read that with a Valley girl tone of voice?
This kind of tweet is an example of the confusingly popular phenomenon that has been coined as humble brag tweeting. Humble bragging is boasting about something, but undercutting with modest humor. While the violation is mostly a Hollywood kind of offense, everyday Tweeters aren’t immune to the annoyance.
Arrogantly bragging about an achievement laced with an “oh my gosh how did that happen,” will not get you any new genuine followers or retweets. It will only get you unwanted eye rolling and unfollows. Say no to humble brag tweeting.
3. “Love is about finding it in unepected places. #anotherglassofwineplease #turndownforwhat”
If your guilty vice is having a few cocktails, or enjoying your favorite bottle of Syrah, so be it. But don’t let all of Twitter know about it, coupled with an inspirational quote about love, success, or how amazing the world is.
If you’re using Twitter to take advantage of its networking and outreach opportunities, tweeting that you’re under the influence isn’t the way to do it.
4. “I’m at ________ 4sq.com/S3a24j”
The dreaded foursquare tweet. Geotagging your Instagram and Facebook photo updates have surged across social media. But unless you’re into the whole stalker thing, don’t tweet out your exact location.
The purpose of this tweet is to invite others to join in, right? But did you know a majority of Twitter users are not in the U.S.? Again, if you like international lurkers, keep on checking into foursquare. But if you’re into privacy like me, keep your geo-tagging tweets to a general, “Hey I’m at Joe Momma’s Coffee.”
5. “RT if you love us plzzzzz”
How to put this lightly? No…one…will…retweet…you. Not only is this kind of tweet spammy and annoying, it screams juvenile. How can any audience take you seriously if they feel like they are following a toddler on Twitter who can’t even spell please?
Okay, I lied. Here are a few more things you shouldn’t tweet.
6. “Thanks for following via ManageFlitter. @i_alexandrarose is now following you.”
Stop reading right now, and go turn off this automated tweet. Nothing screams, “I don’t really even use Twitter, just HootSuite,” more than this nonsense of a tweet.
7. “Thanks for the follow! Now let’s connect on Facebook @i_alexandrarose.”
If I wanted to “like” you on Facebook, I wouldn’t be connecting with you on Twitter. Plus, an invite to your Facebook page sends the message “I’m so important and everything I tweet is so valuable, you shouldn’t miss any of my Facebook selfies.”
Newsflash, no one is that important. Except maybe Neil Diamond.
Sweet Caroline. Bum, bum, bum. Good times never seemed so good.
If you’re at the gym, stay off Twitter. If you’re drunk, stay of Twitter. If you feel like complimenting yourself, do so in the mirror while you’re taking a selfie. Don’t give your Twitter followers any reason to unfollow you. Stick to useful, conversation-fueling tweets, and soon everyone will want to listen to your bird chirping.
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